Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Futurama: Bender's "big" score

Futurama has made a comeback as a straight to T.V. movie. It portrays every character of the series in a one and a half hour feature film. Now, I don't like television, but I did watch this movie, and while I have my reasons, the movie remains 'watched.'

But I'm not going to blast it. Just like every other television show, it takes God for granted, so no surprise, right? Wrong! As usual, Matt Groening surprises us with the things that might ordinarily be missed.

The movie involves time travel (which is as easy to prove as the existence as free will) and needless to say Bender takes advantage by stealing relics from the past. Right at the end of the movie a horde of Benders (duplicated by time travel) emerge bearing a massive amount of 'treasure'. One item that can be clearly spotted is a large wooden cross with a small sign attached to the top.

Now my first reaction was "that is so blasphemous!" But that was because I was taken aback. After carefully considering the evidence, I am just confused as to the intention. Clearly the broader perspective is that this is a comedy movie, designed to make people laugh. So is it mocking the cross? Or is it depicting the cross as an actual historic event, since none of items Bender stole were fictional (since they had to be recognizable). I also noted the move went back to a maximum of 1500 b.c. ("b.c." also being very notable - antagonistic secular dating refers to b.c. as "b.c.e.") One could easily support the historicity argument since it is not an "in your face" reference. It is subtle and could be easily missed.

Now I don't know. I can't accuse them of blasphemy in this case. There is blasphemy elsewhere, so the movie is definitely not trying to encourage sinless behaviour. But is this seemingly random insert a glimmer of hope? Or is it dancing on a very dangerous edge? I honestly hang my shoulders and say that I can't tell you.

What is interesting is that there are enough relics in the common pool of knowledge to avoid including the cross. So why put it in there? Clearly it's intent is to create questions. My question is: are there people who deny that Christ ever existed? Or is it safe to say that history itself testifies (at least) to a man whose name was Jesus and was crucified? I suppose the world is full of all sorts of people, including those who will distrust even secular historians like Josephus(37 to after 100 A.D.) who at least made references to Christians, possibly even Christ. We cannot expect Josephus to give us right answers to Christ and His nature, but there is a thread there that is good.
"In short, while there is reason to doubt the validity of any references to Jesus Christ in the works of Josephus, the general consensus is that they are genuine at least in part." [REFERENCE]

It is important that we as Christians do not let symbols be our downfall. However we must respect the importance of them. I think the cross itself was two pieces of wood, but what it represents is a God who paid the debt for us all. Symbols are important, since they remind us of an entire concept. The whole bible is contained inside that symbol. But some take it too far in saying that it is 'holy.'

I would ultimately say that Futurama did Christianity a slight service in this movie. People will see that cross, know what it means and ultimately see it as a real event. But the context is so blurred I wonder what God's purpose was in allowing it. Some may scoff, some may ask questions. Questions are good.

Some might argue that I'm looking too deeply at this, but everything we sense effects us. If this were not so, then why do advertisers advertise? Everything we put into ourselves will affect what comes out of ourselves. We have to be prepared to accept that seeds may fall through the deepest cracks of our hearts and find them germinating in our most fertile grounds.

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